A sailor went to sea, sea, sea (1972)

Description

English

This recording was made by Iona Opie in Birmingham in 1972. ‘A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea’ is a clapping game found on virtually every playground across the country and belongs to what Roud refers to as the ‘core repetoire’ of clapping games. The song began as ‘My Father Went to Sea’ before becoming more widely known as ‘A Sailor Went to Sea’. After this opening line, it is common for children to sing ‘a sailor went to chop, chop, chop, chop’ and ‘knee, knee, knee, knee’ before ending with ‘sea, chop, knee’. However, children frequently offer their own substitutions, using the song to explore different lyrical combinations and rhymes. The children in this recording refer to ‘China’ and a video, found in this section, shows children from Sheffield singing ‘pick, pick, pick’ while pretending to pick their noses!

Transcript

Transcript

Children: [Singing and clapping]

A sailor went to sea, sea, sea, sea,
To see what he could see, see, see, see,
But all that he could see, see, see, see,
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea, sea.
A sailor went to China,
To see what he could China,
But all that he could China…

Child:

It’s China.

Child:

[Inaudible 0:00:35] you’re spoiling it.

Child:

Miss, they’re spoiling it.

Teacher:

Will you let them do it, please?

Child:

We’ll do it again.

Teacher:

Yes.

Children: [Singing and clapping]

A sailor went to China,
To see what he could China,
But all that he could China,
Was the bottom of the deep blue China.
A sailor went to chop, chop, chop, chop,
To see what he could chop, chop, chop, chop,
But all that he could chop, chop, chop, chop,
Was the bottom of the deep blue chop, chop, chop, chop.
A sailor went to Africa,
To see what he could Africa,
But all that he could Africa,
Was the bottom of the deep blue Africa.

Child:

And then you say all the things at the end.

Title:
A sailor went to sea, sea, sea (1972)
Date:
1972
Duration:
1:38
Format:
Video
Creator:
Iona Opie, Peter Opie
Collection:
Opie Collection of Children's Games and Songs
Usage terms

Audio: Recorded by Peter and Iona Opie © British Library

Images: © Raymond Townsend

Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
C898/06

Full catalogue details

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